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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

On mother’s campaign trail, Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi’s 19-yr-old son rekindling memories in Raiganj

The 19-year-old student at King’s College in London has come with the mission to repeat history and also cast his first vote.

india Updated: Apr 16, 2019 12:15 IST
Pramod Giri
Pramod Giri

Priyadeep Dasmunsi was barely nine years old in 2009 when he first appeared at a political rally, besides Sonia Gandhi, and asked people to vote for his mother Deepa Dasmunsi in Raiganj in the Lok Sabha election.

Deepa Dasmunsi, the wife of former Union minister and one of Congress’ most articulate speakers Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi, won by a margin of 1,05,203 votes. Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi died in 2017 after being in a coma for nine years.

His son, now a 19-year-old student at King’s College in London has come to Raiganj with the mission to repeat history and also cast his first vote.

On April 10, Priyadeep, fondly called Michhil or procession in Bengali by friends and family, shared the dais with Congress president Rahul Gandhi at Raiganj.

“The Trinamool Congress made a futile attempt to divide my family in 2014,” he said.

He was referring to ruling party’s decision to field Satya Ranjan Dasmunsi, Priya Ranjan’s youngest brother, against Deepa. As a result, CPI(M)’s Md Salim scraped through with a thin margin of 1,634 votes.

This time around, the Trinamool Congress has fielded Kanaia Lal Agarwal, a former Congress MLA who switched sides in 2016.

Priyadeep, who has hardly ever spent time at the family’s home in Kaliaganj, is trying to fill the vacuum left by his father who was a five-time lawmaker. He won from Raiganj in 1999 and 2004. The senior Dasmunsi suffered a paralytic stroke in 2008 when he was Union minister for information and broadcasting and parliamentary affairs.

The student of politics, philosophy and economics is the most conspicuous campaigner for his mother. He is visiting virtually every nook and cranny of the constituency in north Bengal.

“I was four months old when my father was first elected from Raiganj in 1999 and he fell terminally ill when I was only nine. Please keep in mind what he did for Raiganj and vote for my mother,” he said at a meeting last Friday.

On Monday, which marked the wedding anniversary of his parents, Priyadeep shared on social media a photograph from happier days.

Pramatha Nath Roy, the Congress MLA from Kaliaganj, said the party is projecting the teenager as an important face. “Priyadeep has politics in his blood and can carry forward the legacy left by his father,” he said.

Satya Ranjan Dasmunsi, who stayed away from politics after his defeat in 2014, is rooting for Deepa Dasmunsi.

“Priyadeep has my blessings. We want to see him emerge as the next Priya Ranjan. The boy has a bright future in politics,” Satya Ranjan said. “I am also campaigning for my sister-in-law and I hope she will win,” he added.

Dhitosree Roy, a primary school teacher at Kaliaganj, said, “Priyadeep is drawing attention. For Congress, this is a good sign and it is making a difference. The boy can be seen everywhere, be it small markets or narrow lanes.”

Raiganj is likely to witness a close race. The contest is so keen that analysts are saying that whoever secures 30% or more votes can hope to win.

Polling will be held in the parliamentary constituency on Thursday and votes will be counted on May 23.

First Published: Apr 16, 2019 12:15 IST